Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Lighter Side of Practicing with Pain

My disease, my very own disease, is rheumatoid arthritis.  I imagine a little cartoon time bomb in my genome.  Daffy Duck is in the foreground, putting his fingers in his ears (does Daffy Duck have fingers?) and waiting for the bomb to explode.  It exploded about four weeks ago.

The wonderful thing about Kaiser is that I had all the tests and x-rays and consultations on the same day.   I was sitting in the Injection Room to have a TB test. There was a cartoon showing a large heron with a semi-squished frog in its bill.  The caption was, “Hang in there.”  Although I have seen this slogan many times, I looked at it with fresh eyes – probably because I was not so sure that I wanted to hang in there.  What I hadn’t noticed was that the frog was strangling the heron with its front leg.  “Oh, it’s not so hopeless as it seems,” I said to the technician.  She replied, “It works both ways.”  Pause.  I then saw that it was at least an even match.

To my credit, I have limped to our little zendo, off the courtyard of St. Edmunds every morning.  This morning I realized it was Rosh Hashanah.  The Coastside Jewish Community uses the sanctuary and grounds for Jewish holidays. [Down with the Christian props and up with the Jewish.  Isn’t much of religious practice theatre?]  I was sitting in the zendo alone and uncomfortable.  Then I heard laughter and songs and voices rising and falling.  I thought of the sparkling water flying from the bow of a boat, rivulets of light.  I heard a man say merrily, “Make a wish, and then pass through the gate.”  There were cries of delight, over and over.  So I got up from my serious zazen and peeked out the door.  Two jugglers were making a portal with flying bowling pins through which children would run.  What a joyous occasion.

So yesterday zazen was a torture session.  Today I am delighted to hear the joy of celebration.

Coming, going, coming, going.  Ever-changing.  Suffering, delight.

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